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Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire 



J 933 





Mankind is a weaver who from the wrong side works 
on the carpet of time. The day will come when he will 
see the right side and understand the grandeur of the 
pattern he with his own hands has woven through 
the centuries without seeing anything but a tangle of 
Brings. lamartine 


Long ago the world was thought to be an island rising from the waters of 
a waste and desolate sea. On the island was a great inner sea called the Mediter- 
ranean, and the lands bordering on this sea were considered the only habitable 
world. The Mediterranean was plowed by merchant ships from Europe, Asia, 
and Africa, but they seldom ventured past the "Pillars of Hercules," now called 
the Strait of Gibraltar. 

This little world was surrounded by almost impenetrable mysteries. In the 
North, fog and frost made a chaotic, unstable element of land, sea, and air. 

In the South, the burning sun melted land and sea into one boiling, seeth- 
ing mass. And far, far away, beyond mystic jungles and inaccessible mountains 
were the eastern wonderlands of golden towers, precious stones, and fragrant 
spices — mysterious Cathay, and perhaps even the Terrestrial Paradise. 

In the West the unnavigable, unruly waves of Oceanus, the fearful "Sea 
of Darkness," washed the shores of Europe and Africa, stretching forth to the 
end of the world. There were tales of beautiful islands far out from land, but 
woe to him who would set forth in search of them ! They would retreat from his 
vision or vanish beneath the waves. The sun would fall hissing into the sea, the 
light would fail, and in the utter darkness no anchoring place could be found. 


Caught by rapid currents the ship would drift outward. In the darkness 
strange monsters lurked, and horrible specters blew roaring hurricanes through 
the ice-cold caves of their nostrils. And from the deepest depth of the ocean 
Satan himself would reach forth his black and hooked claws and seize the bold 


intruder and drag it down. Even if the ship escaped all these terrors, it would 
finally drift to the edge of the world. There the ocean fell into the yawning 
abyss, and the ship would go down the smooth green cataracts and crash at the 
foundation of the world. 

There was a story that once a ship had happened to find a narrow bridge of 
water that led like a rainbow across the gaping chasm. Beyond the chasm was a 
wonderful country, with streams of wine flowing in beds of gold and precious 
stones, mountains that cooled the air in summer and radiated warmth in winter, 
cities with golden towers and people who could fly through the air like birds. 

Many tales like these were told about the Atlantic, but, as the ships of the 
Mediterranean were not seaworthy enough and the means of navigation inade- 
quate for ocean voyages, only a few of the ships that ventured out of sight of 
land ever came back. 

On the shores of Ultima Thule — the northernmost edge of the habitable world 
— the Norsemen lived on the shallow coast plains with barren mountains behind 
them and the sea in front. The mountains hindered travel and the sea encouraged 
it. So they built boats and became daring sailors. Their sturdy but loosely built 
dragonships followed the wave slope like living sea-serpents. And the Norsemen 
knew how to find their course even out of sight of land. They steered by the sun 
and the stars, by the color of the sea, by the whales and the flight of birds. In 
springtime when the northern nights are short and light the Norsemen would set 
sail. They made longer and longer voyages. They plundered and explored the 
coasts of Europe. They sailed far out to the West and came upon a black land 
with burning mountains and boiling springs, with green grass and ice. This land 
they called Iceland, and they settled there about A.D. 800. For a century it was 
the western outpost of the Atlantic. 

From Iceland sailed Eric the Red. He was in search of land that had been 
glimpsed still farther West. Against wind and waves he sailed into the unknown. 
At last he saw snowclad mountains, but a solid belt of ice barred his way. Eric 
followed the ice southward until he rounded a cape, now called Cape Farewell. 
Here the water was warmer and free from ice, and he found deep fjords and 
fertile soil. 

After three years he returned to Iceland with a colorful tale of the new 
country, which he called Greenland. And so alluringly did he describe the land 
that he soon sailed westward again at the head of a fleet and many settlers. Only 
part of the expedition arrived in Greenland and settled in Ericsf jord. 

Leif , Eric's son, was a still bolder sailor than his father. In one daring trip he 
sailed directly from Greenland to Norway without landing, thus accomplishing 
the first real trans-Atlantic voyage. 

When he returned to Greenland, Leif heard rumors about a wind-driven sailor 
who had sighted a strange and beautiful coast to the West. Leif, the adventurer, 
at once hoisted sail and set off in search of the new land. He soon found this land 
(probably what is now called Labrador) and followed it southward, exploring 
the coast and naming it. He called it "Helleland" (Rockland), "Markland" 
(Meadowland), and "Vinland" (Fruitland). Leif had too few men with him 
to settle, for he was only a trader, so he returned to Greenland with a shipload 
of timber. This was a precious cargo for Greenland, as there was no wood there. 

Later a man, Thorfinn Karlsef ne, at the head of a group of pioneers attempted 
to colonize Vinland. But after severe skirmishes with the natives he had to give 
up and return to Greenland. 


These expeditions took place about the year A.D. iooo. There are vague re- 
ports of several expeditions being made to Vinland for timber in the next few 
hundred years. But gradually the colony on Greenland died out, and the story 
of Vinland was lost to the world for centuries. 

The raids of the Vikings stirred the whole of Europe, but their far-reaching 
trans-oceanic ventures passed almost unnoticed. 

There are records that Basque fishermen in the twelfth century hunted whales 
and fished for cod off the Newfoundland Banks, but to most of the world until 
the fifteenth century the Atlantic again became an endless waste with nothing- 
ness beyond it. 

During these centuries, the eyes of Europe were turned to the East, toward 
India and far Cathay. The Crusaders had brought back tales of those dreamlands 
with immense riches of gold and silver, silks and satins, perfumes and spices. 
Merchants from Venice and Genoa had followed the Crusaders to Constanti- 
nople to buy of the eastern goods. These brought enormous prices, for the desert 
caravan routes were long and dangerous, but the demand was great and a flour- 
ishing trade had been established. 

At the end of the Crusades the Moslem wall blocked the land routes to the 
East and the merchant-princes had to find a new way to India or lose their trade. 

They had learned that the fertile Spice Isles lay far to the South in the Indian 
Ocean directly under the sun. Perhaps there was no burning zone at all. Perhaps 
the Atlantic might be hiding treasure islands in the South, perhaps there was 
some truth in the legend that the Phoenicians, ancient traders, had sailed around 
Africa and reached India by sea. 

The enterprising Genoese sent expeditions down the African coast. They 
found again the blooming isles of Madeira and the Canaries, once known by the 
antique world, and they even visited the Azores far out in the sea. But all efforts 


to penetrate further South failed. No ship ever returned from beyond Africa's 
ghostly Cape Non. The Atlantic still held its secrets. 


Prince Henry of Portugal, Henry the Navigator, scientist and organizer, was 
to make his small country the pathfinder of the Atlantic and the leader of the 
great European expansion. 

On the St. Vincent promontory, with an unbarred view over the vast mysteri- 
ous ocean, Prince Henry built an observatory and founded a school where his 
pilots were instructed by learned men from all over Europe. Below in a wind- 
protected bay was his ship-yard. Here Genoese ship builders developed the car- 
avels, those many-sailed ships that were to conquer Cape Non and the terrors of 
the South. 

On the outer point of the promontory Prince Henry built an observatory. 
Here he studied nautical astronomy and founded a school for his pilots. Euro- 
peans had learned much of the seaman's art by experience and much from those 
skilled astronomers, the Arabs. They knew the use of the cross staff and astrolabe 
and could roughly determine latitude in clear weather. Even when the sun and 
stars were hidden by clouds, a pilot could find his direction by a primitive com- 
pass, a magic needle always pointing North to South when put into a straw and 
set afloat on water. But to determine longitude the pilot had only very inexact 
means, the sand glass and the log. 

Piloted by his best captains, and with good supplies and maps of the African 
coast as far as it was known, Prince Henry sent his ships southward in search 
of the seaway to India. Down the shallow and unhealthy coast, frightened by 
sudden squalls, hampered by the doldrums, his pilots one after another rounded 
Cape Non and battled their way to the South. Where they landed, they erected 
big stone crosses and claimed the land for Portugal. They returned with slaves, 
ivory, and rich chart material. And again they set off, finally reaching Cape 
Verde, the green cape lying under the burning sun. Here the coast turned to 
the East, and the joyous message reached Prince Henry that now the seaway 
to India was found. But shortly before his death he had to learn that the coast 
again turned to the endless South. He was not to live to see the victorious 
fulfillment of his dreams and labor, but in the shadows of the rounded capes 
he had buried forever the medieval terrors of the Atlantic. 


Prince Henry's work was continued by his great pupil Bartholomeu Dias. In 
1487 Dias set off southward with two ships and a small vessel carrying reserves. 
He sailed along the coast until he had the sun in the zenith. A new sky arose 
with constellations never before seen by the Portuguese. Abruptly the coast 
ended in a cape, and no further land barred his way to the East. The seaway to 
India lay open before him. 

On his way home Dias left the coast. Out in the open Atlantic, relying en- 
tirely on observations and good navigation, he was quickly and comfortably 
carried homeward by steady easterly winds, later called the trade winds. 

In 1497, Vasco da Gama followed Dias's route of the trade winds, rounded 
the stormy Cape of Good Hope, and after an adventurous voyage across the 
Indian Ocean was the first to reach the Orient by way of the Atlantic. 

The far-reaching Portuguese voyages and a vogue of studying antique writers 
revived an old idea of the world's being a globe. There dawned the idea of land 
on the other side of the Atlantic. Carved pieces of wood, bamboos, and strange 
fruits sometimes were washed ashore after long western storms and seemed to 
prove this theory. As India lay so very far to the East it might be much nearer to 
the West. Nobody actually dared to sail down westward in search of India; hor- 
rible obstacles might be in their way — and how could a ship ever be able to sail 
uphill back again? But learned men began to make globes showing the known 
countries of the world and to make maps showing the Atlantic Ocean as the 
water between Europe and Asia. 


An eager student of these maps was Christopher Columbus, the son of a poor 
Genoese weaver. He had gone early to sea, learned what was known of naviga- 
tion, and determined to become a great discoverer. 


He collected all possible chart material on the Atlantic and 



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became convinced that he could reach India by sailing West. 

He tried to interest various European princes in financing an expedition, but 
made such excessive claims for riches and power for himself that for many years 
he met with no encouragement. Finally he succeeded in interesting Queen 
Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Spain, who helped him to fit out an 
expedition of three ships. 

With these ships, the Santa Maria, the Nina, and the Pinta, manned by an 
undisciplined crew of criminals, soldiers, and monks, Columbus sailed for the 
Canaries. On the sixth of September 1492, he started from there in search of 
the Indies on a fantastic voyage that was to last for five weeks. He kept in the 
region of the trade winds, steering as he thought between the legendary isles of 
Antiglia and St. Brandamus. The further they advanced, the greater grew the 
terror of his men, and, when they sailed into great stretches of seaweed, the 
Sargasso Sea, where no bottom could be found and all winds ceased, they wanted 
to throw their captain overboard and turn back. At last, when the crews had 
almost lost their wits from fear, they came into favorable winds. Birds were 
seen, and the ships followed their flight to the Southwest. After a time they 
saw green branches drifting in the water, and the wind became sweet and 

One night they saw a small light. 

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At dawn the ships' great cannon greeted a beautiful land with tropical plants 
and birds of gleaming colors. 


Awe-struck brown natives swarmed around the big, white-winged monsters 
that had risen out of the sea. 


Columbus, convinced that his charts had been right and that he had reached 
islands off the Asiatic continent, now sailed north in search of Zipangu (Japan) . 
He crossed the Caribbean Sea in all directions and saw many beautiful islands. 
Every moment he expected to sight the gleaming towers of Zipangu behind these 
isolated jungles. 

In vain. While Vasco da Gama succeeded in bringing precious cargoes from 
the real Indies Columbus's efforts seemed an utter failure. Four times he crossed 
the Atlantic to find the Asiatic fairylands. Poor and forgotten he died in Val- 
ladolid in 1506 without having realized the vast importance of his discovery. 

But Portugal had become uneasy after Columbus's first return. Spain might 
capture the Indian trade. They therefore went to the Pope to get from him an 
equal division of the globe. The Pope divided the globe with a line that went 
37 degrees west of the Cape Verde islands. All land discovered east of this line 
was to belong to Portugal, all land west of it to Spain! 

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About the crossing of the Atlantic by John Cabot in the year 1497 history 
tells an uncertain tale. 

Cabot was an Italian merchant who had settled in Bristol, England. Ignoring 
the Pope's division of the globe he sailed off to the West to find for England the 
western way to India. And it is told that he saw a barren land, probably the 
American continent, eighteen months before Columbus first sighted the main- 
land. Off the coast, at what is now the Newfoundland Banks, he found such an 
abundance of cod that he just had to shovel them into the boat, he said. And 
this gave rise to the great Newfoundland fisheries. 

When Cabot returned to England, the king, Henry VII, was very pleased with 
the discovery. To show his gratitude he gave from his privy purse "10 Pounds 
to hym who founde the new Isle." And with the generosity of a prince in a fairy 
tale, Cabot distributed imaginary isles in the Atlantic among his friends and 


In 1500 the Portuguese Cabral sailed for India with a flotilla of caravels. 
Sailing too far West in the region of the trade winds, he was greatly surprised 
to sight land in the Southwest. Immediately one of the ships returned to report 
the discovery while the rest continued on toward the Cape of Good Hope. 

A fleet of caravels was sent from Portugal to explore the coast Cabral had 
reported. Among the pilots was Amerigo Vespucci. He was a clear minded 
man and on this and on later expeditions he studied the coast of the new land 
in the West. He was the first to conclude that, not islands, but a vast new 
continent had been discovered. He drew a chart of the new land and called it 
"Mundus Novus" (New World). After a time, the whole world adopted the 
name America in honor of the man who first recognized it as a great continent. 

It was a hard blow to Spain that their explorations of the Atlantic had not 
opened a way to India. But they did not give up hope, and after Balboa in 15 13 
had seen "the other ocean," separated from the Atlantic only by an isthmus 
of forty-five miles, a feverish search began for a passage to Asia in the North, 
the South, and in the middle of this long stretched barrier, the New World. 

The most likely possibility seemed to be in a southern route. And the Por- 
tuguese Magellan in Spanish service opened the road. He was an excellent sailor 
and a strong personality, and had gained valuable experience from a previous 
voyage to the Malay Peninsula. In 15 19 he left Seville as the leader of an expe- 
dition of five ships, with official sailing orders, "westward bound." The goal 
was, as often in these times, kept a secret to avoid competition. The crews were 
not informed of their destination before they left the harbor. 

Magellan's five ships were old and rotten, manned by motley crews. From the 
first, the men were mutinous, thinking it madness to search a new way over 
endless and unknown seas, where they would certainly all perish by shipwreck 
or starvation. Only with the greatest cunning and through his iron will could 
Magellan master his men. 


After a dismal voyage, however, the ship reached the South American coast 
safely. For fifteen weary months, under growing difficulties, they followed the 
coast southward, trying to find a passage. At last they found an opening, and 
Magellan felt certain that this was a strait, separating America from a large Ant- 
arctic continent. One ship he had already lost by shipwreck, and now another 
deserted and returned to Spain. But with the remaining three Magellan fought 
his way through a barren labyrinth of precipitous rocks, and in five weeks he had 
led his expedition through the three hundred mile strait, one of the world's most 
dangerous waters — now named for him. 

Two years later a ship, worm-eaten, with forests of seaweed on her hull, ap- 
peared south of the Cape of Good Hope, anxiously avoiding Portuguese vessels 
which would have confiscated her booty. It was Magellan's ship, the Victoria. 
Magellan himself had been slain by natives in the Philippines. Of the two hun- 
dred and thirty-four men who had left Spain three years before, only thirty-one 
completed this first voyage around the world. 

The return of the Victoria proved that Columbus was right, that the world was 
round and that India could be reached by sailing West. 

Besides her discoveries, the Victoria brought great riches that were the begin- 
ning of Spain's trans-Atlantic trade. Spanish ships sailed with treasures from 
the Orient across the Pacific to the Isthmus of Panama. There the cargoes were 
unloaded, carried over land to the Atlantic coast, and reshipped for Spain. 

Hidden in the jungles of Central America, the Spaniards now discovered 
the Aztec kingdoms of high culture, rich in silver and gold. Greedily they 
killed and robbed these peoples and the "golden galleons" carried the ill-gotten 
spoil across the Atlantic to Spain. 




The treasure ships were a luring bait for sea robbers. And buccaneers and 
privateers were well seen and secretly encouraged by Spain's enemies, England, 
France, and Holland, who had gained a foothold in North America while Spain 
was busy guarding her monopolies in the West Indies. 


The English, French, and Dutch, in turn, tried again and again to find a 
northern passage to India. But after Baffin's report in 1616, that the strait be- 
tween America and Greenland was landlocked, all further endeavors were aban- 
doned for centuries. But in the search the whole North American coast had been 
explored, even far up into the North, and a profitable trade in fish and fur had 
begun with the natives. Soon traders settled in North America. 

In the seventeenth century poverty and religious intolerance in Europe made 
life unbearable for peasants and burghers alike. More and more the English, 
French, and Dutch were driven across the Atlantic in search of freedom. 

But the voyage across was a terrible trial. Officers and crew were rough, 
only brutal discipline could keep order. Often the captain depended more on 
superstition and guesswork than on nautical knowledge. His astrologer helped 
him lay down the ship's course by predicting wind and weather ahead. 

The vessels were small and leaky, and their top-heavy hulls rolled ruthlessly 
in the ocean's swell. On deck death lurked. During a storm barrels and deck 
cargo often tore loose with the same fury as the stampeded cattle in the hold. 
Ropes and sails were torn to shreds, boats smashed to pieces. All lights were 
extinguished, and the passengers, worn out with seasickness and fear, were locked 
into their overcrowded quarters below deck in total darkness. Clothes and 
mattresses and food were soaked with brine. The common sleeping quarter was 
appallingly filthy. Besides, the stench from livestock, rotting food, and foul 
water suffocated the poor travelers. 


Even if the ship did not founder, death took heavy toll. Smallpox and typhoid, 
starvation and accidents were to be expected. It took courage and determina- 
tion to start on such a voyage. No wonder that many of the early emigrants 
changed their minds at the last moment, preferring to turn back. For when 
they left, they left for good, without hope of ever seeing their native lands 
again. Yet in spite of great hardships and dangerous voyages, one small vessel 
after the other unloaded its human cargo on the shores of the New World. 

These pioneers fought and worked. They succeeded in striking root in the 
New World and became a hardy and adventurous people. Soon they started to 
trade with Europe and became skilled in seamanship. 

The New Englanders learned from the Indians to catch whales. At first they 
used small open boats near the coast, but soon they built larger boats and fol- 
lowed the whales out into the open Atlantic. Off the coast they met with a 
strange new phenomenon; they came upon a wide and strong stream, flowing 
steadily from South to North, regardless of tide and wind. This "river" was 
bluer than the surrounding waters, and always much warmer. There was an 
abundance of dolphin, dogfish, and flying fish, and there were plenty of whales 
on account of this rich food supply. 

The whalers followed the stream South and North. It was always the same, 
coming across the ocean from the Gulf of Guinea, following the coast of Amer- 
ica northward from the Mexican Gulf, then going straight across the Atlantic 
to northern Europe. 

And soon all American shipmasters had learned to use this "Gulf Stream" 
when going to Europe, and to avoid it when homeward bound. 


Accurate navigation and chart making were still impossible, and a shipmaster 
could not know the exact position of his ship in the open sea. Latitude could be 
exactly determined with Newton's sextant, a great improvement on the old 
astrolabe. And through Mercator's parallel projection a ship's course could be 
laid down in its right angle and in a straight line. 

But as yet no reliable way of determining longitude had been found. Among 
the fantastic and difficult ways proposed to settle the problem was a suggestion 
to watch the almost daily eclipses of Jupiter's moons which may be seen at the 
same time wherever Jupiter is visible. But most ships could not have telescopes 
that were powerful enough for this work; also, observations through a tele- 
scope are very difficult on a heaving ship. 

Another plan was to anchor ships along the most traveled routes on the 
Atlantic and have them shoot off rockets at exactly twelve every night. Ships 
could then calculate their approximate longitude from the difference between 
their own time and the midnight signal. But clocks were all too unreliable to be 
depended upon. An accurate clock was an absolute necessity. 

England was now the mistress of the seas and, recognizing the importance 
of a good timepiece, in 17 13 she offered a reward of twenty thousand pounds 
for a watch exact enough to determine longitude within thirty miles. 

John Harrison, a watchmaker, applied himself vigorously to the task, but 
after several unsuccessful tryouts the government gave up hope and appointed 
astronomers to compute tables of lunar distances instead. In 1767 the first of 
these tables was published. But in that same year John Harrison sent his son to the 
West Indies to try out a new watch. The watch lost but one minute, fifty-four 
and one-half seconds on the long voyage. The reward was won. The first chron- 
ometer had been made, and the exact chart-making of the ocean could begin. 


In the next fifty years the Atlantic lost its vague outlines. The sailors knew 
their positions at sea, which stretches to avoid, and which to seek. Ships crossed 
the Atlantic in all directions. Well-armed fleets of East- and West-Indiamen 
jogged along, stately and ponderous, on their profitable journeys, their broad 
and deepgoing hulls loaded with precious goods. Jokingly the sailors said that 
the broad bow of an Indiaman could push a cocoanut ahead for miles, and that 
a bunch of bananas could be carried from the West Indies to England in the 
dead-water under her lee-quarter. 

By the English monopolies, the Yankees were excluded from nearly all this 
profitable trade, but they loved trade, adventures, and hazards. They constructed 
a new type of vessel, a small and light craft, much easier to handle than the 
European ships. With these fastrunning ships, they started to carry contraband 
in the West Indies. 

In the slave trade with the African shores these swift ships were also of great 
advantage. For the quicker the passage the fewer slaves would perish in the 
overcrowded holds. 

In the half century after the American Revolution the tea and opium trade 
with China, the discovery of gold in Australia and California, and the increasing 
trade between Europe and her colonies in America demanded faster passages. 

Now the Americans, with their tradition of fastrunning ships and their great 
resources of oak for shipbuilding, came into their own on the Atlantic. 


Out of the small American trading ship 
grew the clipper, a ship with slender lines and 
towering masts, the crowning glory of the 
shipbuilder's art. These clipper ships with al- 
luring names like Flying Cloud, Rainbow, Sov- 
ereign of the Sea, skimmed the waves, pressed 
to the breaking point by their ambitious cap- 
tains and their iron-disciplined crews. The 
run of the clipper ship Dreadnought, from 
Queenstown to New York in ten days, is still 
the fastest passage recorded for any sailing ship. 

Now an American, Robert Fulton, created 
a strange new boat, a small black craft rolling 
along on two wheels with clanking joints and mm 
hissing steam, with smoke and embers emerg- £$4 
ing from a long thin pipe between her masts. 

In 1 8 19 the first of these ships crossed the 
Atlantic, sailing and steaming. She was the 
Savannah. Several times on her way across 
ships tried to come to her rescue, mistaking 
her for a ship on fire. When she came into the 
harbor of Liverpool, the docks were crowded 
with people wanting to see this new wonder. 

Soon the clipper ships and steamers were 
racing each other in spectacular contests on 
the Atlantic voyages. 

After screw-propellers replaced paddle- 
wheels, and more powerful engines came into 
use, the era of the clipper ships declined rap- 
idly, though for a time the clippers were still 
used by emigrants to save money. 


£-■ .... 

Yet it took weeks to exchange messages across the Atlantic. Most of the Euro- 
pean countries had been linked by telegraph, and submarine cables had been laid 
over small distances and in relatively shallow water. But that a cable could be 
laid over thousands of miles in the unmeasured abyss of the Atlantic seemed 

In the middle of the nineteenth century a series of soundings was taken in the 
North Atlantic. They revealed formations of high rocks and deep holes. But 
between Ireland and Newfoundland a smoothly undulating plateau was found, 
and this plateau seemed like a natural soft bed for a cable. 

It was decided to venture the laying of a cable there, and the 2500 miles of 
wire rope necessary were manufactured. 

There did not exist any ship large enough to hold the whole cable, but the 
English and the American governments each had a battleship fitted out as cable- 
layer. And with great festivities the shore end was landed in Valencia Bay, 
Ireland, in the summer of 1856. 

The public followed the start of the enterprise with great enthusiasm. But 
it soon became obvious that "The Telegraph Company" had taken a very heavy 
burden on its shoulders. It had to struggle with storms during the paying out 
of the cable, with inadequate material, and with a growing adverse public opin- 
ion. After the second unsuccessful attempt the venture was marked as "a mad 
freak of stubborn ignorance." 

But at the third attempt they succeeded in laying the cable across the Atlantic, 
and in the summer of 1857 trie une was opened by an exchange of telegrams 
between the Queen of England and the President of the United States. Now 
the enterprise was praised as "the great feat of the century." But a very strong 
electric current was thought necessary for this long distance, and after three 
months the cable was ruined beyond repair. 

Ten years later it was decided to put out a new cable. And this time there was 
a ship large enough to hold the whole cable. It was The Great Eastern, a pioneer 
in size and design, one of the famous boats in the history of steamships. Orig- 
inally built for troop transport to Australia, tried out in passenger carrying on 


the Atlantic, she had proved too big and uneconomical, and had been laid up for 
many years. But as a cableship she did very well, and two cables were laid from 
her. Since then the telegraph connection between the Old and the New World 
has never been wholly interrupted. 

The cable laying was a great impetus to submarine exploration. Since ancient 
times rough soundings had been made near coasts, but the great depths were 
thought barren and lifeless, filled with eternal ice. In i860 a damaged cable was 
fished up from a great depth in the Mediterranean and was found densely cov- 
ered with small living organisms. This conclusively proved the existence of life 
in the great watery deep, and a systematic exploration of the ocean bed began. 

Sounding was a difficult problem. It took hours to get a couple of thousand 
fathoms down as the weights on the ropes must not be too heavy to get them 
up again. And the friction of the water on the ropes was so great that it was 
impossible to say exactly when bottom was touched. 

An American invented the first really practical sounding apparatus. Attached 
to the line was an iron ball that released itself automatically when bottom was 

By using piano wire instead of rope, the friction of the water was also partly 

The first great expedition for the exploration of submarine regions was sent 
off by the English in 1873. The ship, Challenger, was a floating laboratory, and 
was staffed by scientists, artists, and photographers. They collected an immense 
material, sounding the deeps, comparing temperatures, bringing up samples of 
the bottom and of animal and plant life in different regions and depths. A new 
and strange world, conforming to quite different laws, was discovered. Prob- 
ably no expedition since Magellan's had enlarged the knowledge of our world 
so much. 

Fourteen years later the U. S. survey vessel, the Blake, made another epoch- 
making expedition, and on the results of these two ventures the science of mod- 
ern oceanography is based. Since then, nearly all seagoing nations have been 
engaged in marine studies. 


Submarine boats have been improved with modern methods of engineering, 
but travel under the sea is still so dangerous and uncomfortable that it is only 
in times of great stress such as war that submarines are much used. 

But scientists in their up-to-date steel armor and diving apparatus penetrate to 


ever greater depths. William Beebe from a steel globe, the Bathysphere, broad- 
casted a description of submarine life. Today we know that the Atlantic is the 
home of myriads of strange creatures. Below surface in tropical waters there is 
a paradise of corals, plants, fish and colorful rocks. 


But even in the faint light twenty fathoms down the colors fade away. A 
cold, eternal night grows from the deep. Miles down no ray of the sun ever 
penetrates, and no plants can thrive. The pressure of the water is so great that 
a human body would be pressed as thin as tissue paper. Yet myriads of jellylike 
animals live down there. Flashing in all the colors of the rainbow they shoot 
about, sustaining life on a constant rain of dead organisms or by devouring each 
other. And even in the stagnating waters of the "Nares Deep," the greatest 
known depth in the Atlantic, there is life. 

On the rocky slopes and ridges the water circulates. Great masses of warm 
and cold water, keeping distinct from each other, are moving about in all 
directions, at different depths. 

The best known of the cold currents is the "Labrador Current." In spring 
it carries icebergs along from the Arctic regions far toward the South. 

The icebergs are often enveloped in dense fog and are a great menace to ships. 

After the catastrophe of the Titanic, when a great trans-Atlantic liner was 
sunk by a collision with an iceberg, an ice patrol was established. In spring patrol- 
ships continually follow the icebergs in the North Atlantic and report their 
positions to the shores, and naval radio stations broadcast the data. Today each 
ship crossing the Atlantic knows the exact position of every iceberg near her 

Another great danger to ships are the wrecks cruising about on the ocean as 
if guided by invisible hands. Many of them disappear for a time from the sur- 
face, then suddenly rise out of the waves again, their hulls black and weather- 
beaten, their sides overgrown with seaweed. They may drift around for years, 
and it sometimes happens that a wreck last seen in tropical waters is recognized 
in the far North. A fleet of revenue cutters constantly cruises about in the 
Atlantic looking for these derelicts. They ram them or set them afire, or even 
have to shell them to make them sink. The government regularly publishes charts 
of all recorded wrecks, giving each a serial number. 

On the once trackless waste of the Atlantic there are no longer many surprises 
for the accomplished master of a big ship. Nearly everything has been explored 


and mapped out so carefully that he knows the exact position of his ship at every 
moment. When near land, he can follow his maps and check by sounding and by 
taking samples of the bottom. Shoals and isles, points off the coasts and entrances 
to harbors have been marked. Lights in different colors are blinking, buoys are 
ringing and whistling, beacons of various shapes and colors guide him and warn 
him of danger. When in the open sea he may keep his exact course by help of 
maps, compass, chronometer, sextant, and radio — the great modern contribu- 
tion to navigation. Danger on sea voyages has been greatly overcome; out on 
the ocean the ship is no longer a small, isolated world. By radio she keeps in com- 
munication with other ships and with the shores. And in emergencies she calls 
others to her assistance. When an S.O.S. is heard, the great shore stations immedi- 
ately repeat it. Within half a minute every radio correspondent stops, and every- 
body listens to the faraway distress signal. Soon ships from all sides come to help. 

On strictly appointed "sea lanes" giant steel palaces, carrying thousands of 
passengers, run between the Old and the New World. Through tempests and 
calms these ships race, their streamline bodies thrust forward by huge engines. 
They fight to beat each other's records in speed, to win the most prized trophy, 
"the Blue Ribbon of the Atlantic." The Bremen holds it today for making her 
maiden voyage in four days, seventeen hours. Coming improvements in ship 
technique will certainly better this record, if only by a few hours. 

Sound transmission is another conquest. For a long time Guglielmo Marconi 
experimented with wireless signals. In 1906 he decided to try and send these 
signals across the Atlantic. He built a powerful wireless station in Poldhu, Corn- 
wall, England. Then he proceeded to St. Johns, Newfoundland, where he flew 
balloons containing receiving apparatus from Signal Hill. When everything was 
ready, the Morse signals for the letter S were sent from the Poldhu station and 
distinctly heard in St. Johns — wireless telegraphy had annihilated space over the 
Atlantic. Within a year, the first trans-Atlantic ethereal message traveled East 
from Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to England, and in 1927 radio tele- 
phone communication was established between New York and London. Sound 
had flown the Atlantic. 


Up to a few years ago, there remained one more irresistible hazard over the 


Atlantic. Man had explored the surface and delved in the depths; now he was 


lured by a new element, the air, that promised a way where the routes become 
smooth and uniform, where oceans, continents, shoals, and ice barriers are passed 
with equal facility. 

Dangers there were, all the more real because known and reckoned with, but 
numerous bold spirits disregarded the dangers for the possible achievement. 

In 1919 the NC 4, a flying boat, flew from America to Spain, stopping at the 
Azores. Prevailing winds are more favorable from West to East, and in that 
same year, in one wild flight of sixteen and a half hours, an English airplane 
piloted by Captain I. Alcock and Lieutenant A. Whitten Brown spanned the 
ocean from Newfoundland to Ireland, the first flight over the Great Circle 
that had been the route of so many voyages of discovery. 

But no one had made that flight alone. 

In 1927, a winged craft, The Spirit of St. Louis, left New York and flew aloft. 
After thirty-six hours of skilled navigation, one single man alighted from this 
plane at Bourget Field in Paris. He said, "I am Charles Lindbergh. I have a letter 
of introduction." He did not need it. The whole world was waiting for news 
that the space over the vast watery barrier had been conquered at last in a solo 

Since then many successful flights have been made. Captain D. Costes and 
Lieutenant C. Bellonte were the first to fly from Paris to New York. Amelia 
Earhart was the first woman to span the Atlantic alone. In the summer of 1933, 
General Italo Balbo led a flotilla of over twenty sea planes from Italy to Chicago 
by way of Greenland, and flew the return trip by way of the Azores. 

Dirigibles, too, have played their part. In 1919 an English airship, R 34. flew 
from Scotland to New York. Much later, in 1928, the Graf Zeppelin was the 
first airship to try out trans-Atlantic air transport, to travel on a scheduled date 
and carry many passengers. When the giant airship thundered over the city with 
all her lights ablaze, New Yorkers saw history in the making, and sirens and 
beacons gave recognition. Now the Graf Zeppelin flies regularly between Europe 
and South America saving much time in this long distance. 


Perhaps in the near future seadromes will be anchored at intervals across the 
Atlantic to serve as stopping places for passenger planes which will take from 
twenty-four to thirty-six hours between America and Europe. 

Perhaps the time will come when man will be independent even of fog and 
storm by riding above them. In his rocket plane he will span the Atlantic with 
the precision of a clock. He will go up from New York and use motor and pro- 
peller to reach the stratosphere, where the rocket machinery will be put into use. 
With incredible speed the craft will be shot hissingly forward. After three quar- 
ters of an hour, motor and propeller will again be taken into use, and the plane 
will glide down over the roofs of Paris. 

And then the conquest of the Atlantic's Blue Ribbon will continue in an era 
of seconds — who knows? 


during the The Atlantic known as the great outer sea, "The Sea of Darkness." 


c/th to i ith The Vikings discover Iceland, then Greenland, then North America (about a.d. iooo). 


1 4TH The Genoese start the exploration of the South Atlantic, discover Madeira, the Canaries, 

century tJjg Azores, their way South barred by the fabulous "Cape Non." 

14THAND15TH p r ince Henry of Portugal, "Henry the Navigator," the opener of the Atlantic. The 
centuries £ rst t0 or g an i ze scientific navigation. 

! 5 TH Bartholomeu Dias, Prince Henry's pupil, the first to reach the Atlantic's southeastern 

cape, the Cape of Good Hope. He also was the first who left the coast and ventured 
out into the open sea, relying on scientific navigation to steer his course. 

Revival of the old idea that the world is round revives the possibility that Asia might 
be reached by sailing across the Atlantic. 

Columbus crosses the Atlantic from Spain to the West Indies four times. His first 
expedition in 1492. 

John Cabot from England to the New World in 1497. Probably the first in this period 
to see the mainland. 

Cabral touches the southern continent in his way to the Cape of Good Hope in 1500. 

15TH-10TH Amerigo Vespucci is the first to conclude that the newly found lands are not islands, 
century b ut the coast of a vast continent forming the western shore of the Atlantic. 

1 6th Magellan on his way around the world finds the southwestern way out of the Atlantic. 


First mercantile fleets, Spanish ships, carry treasures from New Spain crossing the 

Sea-robbers, buccaneers, and privateers. 

16TH-17TH English, French, and Dutch sail to North America. Trade with Europe begins. 

17TH Emigrations increases. 



i 8th New Englanders whaling and fishing off the western shores of the Atlantic discover 

CENTURY Gulf Stream 

The first chronometer makes it possible to calculate exact longitude; the exact chart- 
making of the Atlantic begins 1767. 



19TH a demand for ships that can make fast passages. The Americans develop their small 

privateers into clippers and come into their own on the Atlantic. 

In 1819 the first steamship, the Savannah, crosses the Atlantic (partly steaming, but 
mostly sailing). 

In the middle of the nineteenth century, steamships generally replace sailing vessels. 

In 1857 the first transatlantic cable. 

In i860 submarine exploration of the great depths begins. The first great expedition, 
the Challenger expedition, by the English — 1873. In 1887 the American Bla\e expe- 
dition. On these two ventures the science of modern oceanography is based. 

First wireless signals sent across the Atlantic by Marconi in 1906. 

Followed by ethereal messages within a year. 

1919, the first flying boat, U. S. N. C. 4, flies from America to Spain via the Azores. 

Correction, Page 55, fln 119, an English airplane, piloted by Captain I. Alcock and Lieutenant A. Whitten 
Alcock and Brown flew to . ^ frQm Newfoundland t0 Greenland. 

Ireland (not Greenland). 

1919, an English airship, R. 34, flies from Scotland to New York. 
1927, Charles Lindbergh flies alone from New York to Paris. 

1927, radio telephone communication is established between America and Europe. 

1928, the Graf Zeppelin begins transatlantic air transport. 

1933, the Italian General Balbo with his flotilla of seaplanes flies from Italy, via Green- 
land, to Chicago and returns via the Azores.